High school seniors in Rockford Public Schools will help again this year with Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois’ annual tax filing assistance program. Volunteers from Goodwill’s GoodTAXES program are working with students who volunteered from Auburn, East, Guilford and Jefferson high schools. Students have completed 12 hours of training, which can lead to an Internal Revenue Service certification that allows students to file income tax returns. After completing the training, students will partner with other Goodwill volunteers to file income tax returns for the public, free of charge.
Students earn the IRS Tax Preparer certification through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistant program, or VITA. They can use that certification and experience to land internships or summer jobs, and they can also list it on a college application.
Administrators hope to offer similar partnerships and certifications in each of the high school academies, part of the high school redesign to hook students into real-world work and job experience. “Partnerships like this where students gain credentials and experience are key to the success of our academy model in our high schools,” said Nik Butenhoff, Director of Career and Technical Education for Rockford Public Schools. “They provide work-based learning experiences for our students.”
Sessions are every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 pm. Jan. 16 through April 9 in the East High School cafeteria. RPS 205 staff members and parents of RPS 205 students are eligible, in addition to community members; income guidelines apply. Single income must be less than $25,000 or family income must be less than $50,000. The program will not assist filers with depreciation and rental income, and self-employment restrictions apply. Call 815-987-6200 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
“We are excited to have partnered with RPS 205 and their students again this year,” said Jason Haller, Goodwill Industries Financial Programs Manager. “The students have taken advantage of top-notch training and have worked very hard to get their IRS certification. We are looking forward to teaming up with the students to help our community.”
Goodwill Industries will operate the GoodTAXES free income tax preparation and filing program for the seventh year. Last year, Goodwill’s tax sites prepared and filed 2,402 returns that refunded $2.5 million in refunds to community members. This program is supported by United Way of the Rock River Valley. Learn more at Goodwillni.org.